Risk Registry

The Canadian Sport Risk Registry contains a number of common risks and is updated following each Risk Management Workshop. The risks and solutions are presented generically and anonymously, to provide insight for sport leaders to think differently about the risks that are ‘keeping them up at night’.

Lack of capacity - qualified staff and program leaders

The Risk and its Impacts:

Not having sufficient and qualified professional staff (e.g., coaches, medical staff, meet directors, classifiers, event managers, committee leaders, administrators) to sustain performance excellence of athletes/teams, and to fulfill strategic goals and objectives.

  • Encourage and share best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of programs, events, and coaching.
  • Pay all team staff a reasonable wage/honorarium in recognition of their contribution and to retain and attract qualified individuals.
  • Organize an annual congress that offers professional development opportunities for coaches, medical staff, classifiers, event managers, administrators and other technical leaders.
  • Prepare detailed job descriptions for all staff and program leaders.
  • Require all coaches with national and provincial/territorial teams to be members of Coaches of Canada.
  • Develop and maintain a succession plan for all staff roles and volunteers in other key roles. See the risk “Staff Turnover and Lack of Succession Planning.”
  • Provide matching grants to clubs to support talent development (administrative, coaching).
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Target financial support to specified individuals in specialized roles (talent ID and nurturing).
  • Create a formalized alumni program.
  • Establish performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.
  • Identify what motivates staff and key volunteers (i.e., money, benefits, professional development, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Identify and groom key leaders and athletes for future employment opportunities (talent ID and development).
  • Planned/scheduled recognition of staff and key volunteer leaders.
  • Use professional groups to assist with talent recruitment and hiring.
  • Cap the number of terms a Board of Directors’ member may serve to ensure fresh perspectives.
  • Implement strategies to avoid staff burnout (i.e., allow 5% of work time to be non-allocated, flexible work environment, work-from-home days).
  • Adjust deliverables (scope, timeline) to better reflect staff capacity.
  • Develop a process of reviewing and streamlining projects, programs, policies, etc., with the goal of ensuring the organization is meeting minimum requirements and remains compliant where required.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategies to promote and showcase talent.
  • Communications to encourage sharing of best practices between and among professional staff.
  • Communicate possible employment options to high-performance athletes for their consideration following their retirement.

Lack of internal processes

The Risk and its Impacts:

Operational procedures are not fully developed, consistent, or do not meet minimum legal requirements.

  • Schedule a regular review of all internal processes.
  • Create a task force with assistance from an external consultant.
  • Create a staff Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual.
  • Develop a protocol and policy to manage intellectual property.
  • Integrate Imagine Canada standards.
  • Conduct risk assessment when stepping outside standard operations or procedures.
  • Use organizational values when making decisions.
  • Create clear job descriptions and organizational chart to ensure confidence.
  • Perform cost benefit analysis between hiring and re-organizing.
  • Ensure all organizational information is secure and is regularly backed up.
  • Host regular all-staff meetings to share updates and answer questions.
  • Have access to passwords in case of emergency.
  • Have an elected staff member as a representative for compliance regulations.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategy should be focused on how to manage expectations.

Lack of qualified board directors and/or conflicted board of directors

The Risk and its Impacts:

Insufficient organizational leadership, poor governance, membership dissatisfaction, and failure to deliver quality programming to members.

  • Develop a formal Board of Directors recruitment and application process that is led by a Governance or Nomination Committee.
  • Prepare detailed job/role descriptions for all Directors and Officers.
  • Create and maintain a board Manual that includes duties, responsibilities, board schedules, document access, strategic direction, governing documents and rules, conduct guidelines, insurance, etc.
  • Develop Board Member Agreements/Contracts that address Board conduct, conflict of interest, intellectual property and confidentiality.
  • Develop a standardized new Board Member orientation process.
  • All Board of Directors’ members must complete the Governance Essentials E-Learning Course as part of their onboarding.
  • Use professional groups to assist with board talent recruitment.
  • Establish board performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Identify what motivates board members (i.e., professional development, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Identify and groom key leaders (i.e., through committee work) for future Board opportunities (talent ID and development).
  • Plan and schedule recognition of board leaders.
  • Develop and maintain a succession plan for all Board of Directors’ members.

Lack of sound hiring and recruitment practices for national team personnel

The Risk and its Impacts:

Lack of formal procedures for selecting coaches and other team personnel, lack of clarity around screening volunteers and staff lead to unsafe environments for national team activities.

  • NSO has both formal and informal procedures for screening coaches and other personnel.
  • Develop a Travel Risk Policy Suite to identify safety procedures and standards for travel, accommodation, and supervision for teams.
  • Personal coaches are restricted to very narrow responsibilities, which are clearly outlined.
  • Institute more formal selection procedures to select coaches for teams, involving application, portfolio, and interview components.
  • Implement ten safe steps of screening with all national teams, including police checks, using a phased approach. See Volunteer Canada: www.volunteer.ca.
  • Create and adhere to formal volunteer selection criteria. Provide volunteer job descriptions and expectations.
  • Conduct team personnel evaluations annually and at the conclusion of major trips.
  • Interview team athletes to identify their satisfaction with team personnel and any issues.
  • Conduct an environmental scan of branches, clubs, or other sports to ensure any potential personnel are not red flagged in other areas.

Lack of strategic planning

The Risk and its Impacts:

Failure to adopt or use a relevant strategic plan to its full advantage, leading to misuse of resources, lack of direction, and lack of corporate accountability.

  • Develop a communications plan for Board of Directors and general membership that clearly identifies strategic goals and objectives and highlights mission, vision, and values.
  • Integrate priority strategic items into operations plan.
  • Use strategic plan as a guide when assessing the feasibility of new projects.
  • Undertake a regular environmental scan to monitor and plan for risk.
  • Adopt a Management by Values approach to daily operations. Reference values in decision-making and team discussions.
  • Conduct an annual evaluation to assess the use of the strategic plan and the achievement of strategic objectives.

Lack of volunteers

The Risk and its Impacts:

Declining quality and quantity of volunteers due to changing environmental factors (i.e., demographic, social, economic, workplace stress). As a result, organizational leadership, program delivery, and the athlete experience suffers.

  • See the risk “Shortage of Qualified Coaches and Officials” and the related risk solutions to increase volunteerism.
  • Enhance opportunities for high-profile international appointments (to attract highly qualified volunteers).
  • Enhance quality of professional development opportunities for volunteers.
  • Establish a more formal nomination process to solicit committee and board members. See also the risk “Lack of Qualified Board Directors.”
  • Develop strategy to retain alumni by offering a menu of options to continue their involvement in the sport.
  • Develop a mentoring program to match people with experience and knowledge with newcomers to the organization.
  • Utilize the True Sport #NoRefNoGame campaign to profile the importance of officials.
  • Undertake research into volunteerism trends and their impact on sport.
  • Undertake youth leadership outreach. Target and identify youth to participate annually to groom future leaders for the sport.
  • Target recruitment of qualified women and equity deserving groups.
  • Determine how to make use of increasing number of youth volunteers, such as those who need volunteer hours for school.
  • Create a plan for keeping volunteers beyond the youth stage.
  • Establish a national volunteer database in collaboration with PTSOs and branches/clubs.
  • Identify and develop incentives that attract young, qualified volunteers.
  • Engage with volunteer agencies (i.e., Volunteer Canada) to promote and attract new volunteers.

Large-scale incident or force majeure occurs that destabilizes sport activities and participation

The Risk and its Impacts

An event such as a pandemic, war, natural disaster, terrorist attack, economic depression, or other unforeseeable crisis causes the sport system to collapse or pause, which significantly impacts participation, athlete development, revenue, programming, staffing and organizational operations, and achievement of strategic goals and objectives.

  • Develop a Crisis Management Plan that is aligned with other plans and policies.
  • Acquire a list of trusted external advisors who can support the organization through a crisis (legal, trauma, risk management, communications, etc.).
  • Manage crisis or incident via a Management by Values approach.
  • Identify key spokesperson(s) and define key messaging in consultation with executive leadership.
  • Expand online engagement opportunities to keep members engaged and staying relevant.
  • Develop financial contingency and reserve funds to buffer potential losses of revenue.
  • Develop new policies, procedures, and forms that address the incident (i.e., return to play, facility protocols, screening forms, travel consent).
  • Access government funds to diversify programming and sustain operations.

Managing competing priorities

The Risk and its Impacts:

Not being able to determine or decide which projects or programs to prioritize, and which to decline or discontinue.

  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.
  • Explore partnership opportunities with PTSOs to complete projects.
  • Invest only in programs that further the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Review strategic plan to reconcile which current priorities are relevant to the plan.

Shortage of qualified coaches and officials

The Risk and its Impacts:

The inability to meet demands and expectations for the sport due to a shortage of qualified coaches and/or officials, resulting in a weakened sport experience.

  • Implement #NoRefNoGame social media campaign to help clubs improve their capacity to attract and retain coaches.
  • Extend coverage of national employment benefits program to salaried club coaches.
  • Collaborate closely with provinces in coach development and official development.
  • Consider an entry-level coach training module to attract young coaches, and to implement in school-based programs.
  • Develop an alumni strategy to improve retention of athletes and their recruitment into coaching and officiating roles after retirement.
  • Prepare formal coach mentorship program to match new coaches with experienced coaches in the system.
  • Ensure appropriate honoraria/per diems for officials.
  • Create True Sport awards and recognition programs for coaches and officials.
  • Provide competitive salaries for national-level coaches.
  • Hire a technical director who can be directly responsible for the effective delivery of coaching and officiating training.
  • Provide greater leadership and support to PTSOs to assist them in their efforts to develop coaches and officials.
  • Make a strong and very public commitment to support coach professional development and coaching excellence.
  • Use AGM/congress to achieve professional development delivery for coaches and officials.
  • Provide coach and officials development and training using innovative new technologies (social media).
  • Establish an officials committee to develop a strategy for recruitment, retention, and mentorship of young officials.
  • Encourage best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of coaching.
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Develop a strategy that will lead to all national team coaches being full-time, salaried professionals.
Communication strategies:
  • Communicate and promote the benefits of coaching.

Weak leadership

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of not being seen as a system leader during times of change, leading to negative perceptions, mistrust, and damaged relationships.

  • Share important information showing leadership through a communications plan to members, and by providing updates on key issues.
  • Involve PTSOs and members in the conversation during times of change.
  • Find a way to engage certain provinces and territories and for them to champion change.
  • Effectively communicate return on investment and align decision making with corporate values and strategic goals.
  • Identify and offer/recommend leadership development opportunities for staff and board.

Weak organizational structure

The Risk its Impacts:

Organization is not structured to optimize resource use and stakeholder services.

  • Review and update policies and procedures with regularity.
  • Strike staff or board committee, or sub-committee, to provide guidance and research current structure recommendations.
  • Publish current policies to ensure stakeholders can access them.
  • Procure expertise (e.g., legal) to ensure updated policies are aligned.
  • Establish a set of corporate values and guidance principles.
  • Examine the actions of the international federation for successes and challenges.
  • Ensure athlete opinions and concerns are considered in decision making and strategic planning.